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Nigerian Govt Wades Into Alleged NASS Budget Padding Controversy, Exonerates Ningi For Wrong Doing

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Tinubu

The Nigerian government has entered the debate over the 10th National Assembly’s alleged budget padding.

On Tuesday, the Red Chamber suspended Abdul Ningi, senator representing Bauchi Central, for alleging that the 2024 budget was padded by N3 trillion. He claimed that the legislature padded the N28.7 trillion 2024 Appropriation Act by N3.7 trillion, noting that his findings revealed no tangible projects linked to the amount injected into the budget by lawmakers.

The allegations lasted three hours on the Red Chamber floor and culminated in Ningi’s suspension after he failed to apologise to his colleagues.

In response to the development, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, stated that while the executive branch has the right to transmit a budget, it is the legislature’s responsibility to review it and make input in the national interest.

The Minister, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, said, “The president submitted a budget of N27.5 trillion, which the National Assembly wisely increased to N28.7 trillion.” We presented the budget at an exchange rate of N750 to the dollar, but the Assembly increased it to N800. That resulted in increased revenue.

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“The Assembly also mandated that government-owned enterprises contribute more revenue. The judiciary, legislature, and executive branch’s budgets were then increased.

“In signing the 2024 Appropriation Act, the President acknowledged that in a democracy, institutions have power and the National Assembly has the final say.”

“The evolution of constituency projects and projects by National Assembly members, which began in 1999, reflects the challenges that elected officials face.”

The Minister also mentioned that former President Umaru Yar’ Adua, of blessed memory, had approached the Supreme Court to interpret Section 80 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), but the case was eventually settled out of court.

He went on to say, “There has been a long debate, and a former President went to the Supreme Court to define the appropriation power of the executive and the National Assembly.”

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“Later, there was an out-of-court settlement.” This issue has not yet been resolved. So, what power does the National Assembly have over the budget? There is no Supreme Court decision, and our democracy’s choice is that the National Assembly has the final say. Even if they pass an appropriation and refuse assent, it becomes law after 30 days.”

On whether the National Assembly has the authority to increase budget estimates, the former Kebbi State Governor simply said “Yes,” claiming that it is all part of the checks and balances built into the presidential system of government.

Many prominent Nigerians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mike Ozekhome, have criticised Ningi’s suspension, arguing that instead of sanctioning him, the Godswill Akpabio-led Senate should have formed a committee to investigate the allegations.

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POLITICS

Baba-Ahmed Warns Soyinka: You Do Not Have Monopoly To Insult Anybody

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Dr. Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Labour Party’s (LP) Vice-Presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, has warned Prof Wole Soyinka that intellect does not give him the right to insult anyone.
Responding to a statement made by Prof. Wole Soyinka, in which the Nobel laureate said Peter Obi was “unfit” to govern Nigeria, Baba-Ahmed stated, “I remember this Soyinka insulting the late General Sani Abacha. “Nothing gave him the right to do that,” he continued.
Responding to a question about why Obi has not taken steps to prevent members of the Obidient from attacking Soyinka, Baba-Ahmed stated, “There is no way Peter Obi and my humble self can control the Obidients.
“Peter Obi went into a canoe without a life jacket, and he paid for it. So, it is Wole Soyinka’s responsibility to maintain his respect and dignity, not Peter Obi’s to control the Obedients.
In an interview broadcast on the Arise News Channel, Baba-Ahmed claimed that Soyinka was only afraid of the positive changes that Peter Obi would bring to Nigeria.
He explained, “The learned elder statesman, Prof. Wole Soyinka, is concerned about what good Peter Obi will bring to Nigeria. He is already concerned that his principal will meet his demise as a result of poor governance.
“What Soyinka is doing right now is an attempt to distract.” Baba-Ahmed stated that he would not engage in debate with the Nobel laureate, but would continue to pray for the elder statesman.
Soyinka claimed in an earlier interview that Obi encouraged his followers, referred to as ‘Obidients,’ to attack him and others with opposing views online in the run-up to the 2023 presidential election.
According to THISDAY, when asked what he thinks about the movement, Soyinka replied, “It has to do with education. I did not read all of these (insults by the Obedient Movement), but some links were sent to me, especially when facts were “manufactured.”
“When I read these things, I became disgusted. There is not another word for it. I really was disgusted and I know that it was orchestrated.”

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POLITICS

Kano Governor Orders Arrest Of Deposed Emir Ado Bayero

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Deposed Emir

Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, the Governor of Kano State, has ordered the immediate arrest of Aminu Ado Bayero, the deposed Emir of Kano.

Sanusi Tofa, Director General of Media and Publicity, Government House, Kano, issued the order in a statement on Saturday.
The governor said Bayero should be arrested for allegedly inciting tension in the state.

The statement, titled ‘Gov. Yusuf Orders Arrest of Deposed Emir of Kano Aminu Ado Bayero,’ read, “The Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, has ordered the immediate arrest of the former Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, for inciting tension in the state.”

“The former Emir was smuggled into Kano last night in an attempt to force his way back to the palace two days after being deposed by the Governor.

“According to Mr. Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, the Governor’s spokesperson, the new Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, arrived at the palace around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 25th, 2024, with the Governor, the Deputy Governor, the Speaker of the State Assembly, and other top government functionaries.

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“As the state’s Chief Security Officer, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, has directed the Commissioner of Police to arrest the deposed Emir immediately for disturbing public peace and attempting to destroy the state’s relative peace.”

Bayero, whose whereabouts had been unknown since being deposed on Thursday, returned to Kano on Saturday.

The state House of Assembly repealed the law signed by ex-Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on December 5, 2019.

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POLITICS

Gov Otti Tells House Of Reps Committee That Abia Is Committed To Transparent, Accountable Government

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Hon. Bamidele Salam with Gov. Otti

Members of the visiting committee with Gov.. Otti

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti says his administration is committed to running a transparent and accountable government to deliver the greater good for the overall development of the state.

Governor Otti said as a responsive and responsible government he is expected to be accountable, and that is what his administration stands for.

The Governor spoke on Thursday when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, led by the committee Chairman, Mr. Bamidele Salam, and accompanied by the member representing Isialangwa North and South Federal Constituency, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe, visited him as part of their oversight function to states in the South East zone.

In a statement from Kazie Uko, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Otti maintained that to achieve his goal of a new Abia, he must be responsible and assured that he will always do what is right to justify the confidence reposed in him by the people of Abia.

Governor Otti described accountability as an important facet of Governance, adding that it was the spirit of accountability that led him to set up a forensic audit, which disclosed massive looting of the State by the past administration.

“It is on that basis that I want to refer to a topical issue at this time. When we came in slightly less than a year ago, we thought that in the spirit of accountability, we should set up a forensic audit on the activities of our predecessor. We thought we should call KPMG or any of those big three or four, so we eventually settled for KPMG.

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“We are not interested in witch hunting; we just needed to know where we were and how our resources in the last few years were used. At least, we can hold ourselves and our predecessors to account. Our predecessor should hold its predecessor to account that’s just the way it goes,” Governor Otti explained.

According to the Governor, “When the audit result came out, many public revelations were made and we are still struggling with some of them. One of them was that a lot of money moved out of the (State’s) Federation Account domiciled in one of the banks on a day, the 25th of September, 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It was dedicated to the construction of an airport in Abia. That was 10 billion Naira. We tried to look for the airport, but we couldn’t find it.

“There is no airport because we have gone around the State. So, the money has to come back. That is accountability. There is no responsibility without accountability. By the time I hand over to my successor, I expect him as a matter of importance to also set up a forensic audit on my administration and then come up with an accountable report.”

 

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In his remarks earlier, Hon. Salam explained that they were not in the state for a witch hunt exercise but to carry out its role of tracking public expenditure to ensure that public funds are used for the public in a manner that conforms with all the rules of transparency and accountability.

 

The House Committee Chairman said that the Governor had over the years supported public accounts and transparency in governance, and congratulated Governor Otti for not disappointing those who had reposed confidence in his leadership qualities.

 

He noted that Governor Otti had made Abia in the news for positive things and described him as a leader who has redefined governance and has also brought innovation to bear in governance.

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“The first thing I want to congratulate and thank you for is that you have not disappointed God. That God, who created Abia State which has a population of a little over four million people is the same God who created the States of Alabama and Kentucky in the United States with about four million population. The GDP of this State is about 0.8 billion USD, Kentucky has about 278 billion USD as GDP; the same population, and the same State of a federation.

 

“And so, the fact that you have been Governor for almost 12 months now has given us a yardstick to ask whether indeed you were prepared for the office. And Your Excellency, without mincing words, everything you have done since you assumed this office has shown that you prepared to govern Abia State in a manner that will make the State fulfil its God’s given purpose.

 

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“The second one, I want to thank you for is that, next to not disappointing God, is not disappointing man. If you aspired to be Governor on two occasions and it didn’t happen and it happened the third time, and God forbid you became the Governor and you are not able to show any remarkable difference between yourself and those who went before you, a whole lot of people will lose interest in politics and governance.

 

“I was in a programme recently in Lagos, organised by Linus Okoye. It was a leadership roundtable and we were just about 30 people one of the introductory parts of that programme was for each person to say something about a place they have been to. Almost half of the 30 people in the room mentioned Abia State, and each person was giving credit to you for the change of narration, the change of focus, and the change of attention.

 

“So, your Excellency, with the little God has enabled you to do in the last year, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of innovation, in terms of trying to drive the process of growth in GDP of the State; for the information of everyone of course we all know this, when we talk about Nigeria, you are looking at the manufacturing sector and the capacity of Nigeria to be the Taiwan of Africa, like President Bola Tinubu said, it is here in Abia State and is here in Aba.

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“So, I want to congratulate and thank you for not allowing people to say oh, you see politicians, after all these years of preparation then what is he doing? That is not on the lips of anyone. And, I am not surprised; one of the good things you have also done is to assemble a very solid team,” Hon. Salam recounted.

 

 

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